2021 has been a big year for SCAD rookie Brooke Mitchell. She traveled out west, she graduated from high school, and she started her freshman year of college. But his greatest achievement by far has been designing the Desert Daisy High Tops for BANGS Shoes, a collection that has sold over and over since its release.
Brooke’s older sister is influencer McCall Mitchell Gilbert, a travel vlogger who rose to fame on TikTok in 2019. She has since expanded her content to also include Instagram and YouTube. As his followers rapidly grew among his social platforms, McCall received a message from BANGS Shoes regarding a sponsorship in May 2020. The brand offered to send him a few free pairs of their signature embroidered sneakers in exchange for some photos of them. posted on his Instagram account – an Instagram account with over 150,000 followers and counting.
Meanwhile, Brooke was working on growing her own custom shoe business on Instagram and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
“My sister could have easily accepted the brand’s contract and gotten a few free pairs of shoes out of it, but instead she came up with the idea of a BANGS x McCall Mitchell sneaker collaboration,” Brooke explains. “She knew I had a passion for sneaker design, so she asked if she could contact BANGS to possibly design the shoe together.”
BANGS was sold on the idea, and a year later the Desert Daisy High Tops were sold on their website.
“That was awesome,” Brooke says. “I’m so grateful that she took that leap for me.”
Since BANGS is based in Texas, McCall is based in Nevada, and Brooke is based right here in Georgia, the initial design process consisted of countless emails for months. “Working with Hannah Davis, the founder of BANGS, has been such a cool process,” says Brooke. “I drew tons of sketches of our vision for the shoe, and watching that vision grow from a sketch to an actual shoe that I could hold was so surreal.”
The BANGS x McCall Mitchell collaboration was inspired by the deserts of Arizona, a place close to McCall’s heart. “We chose to take inspiration from Monument Valley because we felt like it had the perfect desert vibe we were looking for,” Brooke explains. “We also wanted to use rustic tones of orange and burnt sienna, which are very trendy right now.”
Brooke’s creative vision was a success. “People loved the cacti we implemented in our design because it added the perfect pop of green, but also because it was a pattern that BANGS had never used before.” Since the release of the BANGS x McCall Mitchell collaboration, the company has adapted to create more collections with embroidered cacti and succulents due to its success.
“I really owe my sister everything,” Brooke says. “I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without her.”
Although her Desert Daisy design with BANGS was a one-time collaboration, Brooke hopes to work with the company again in the future. “As I continue my education as a SCAD student and gain a little more design experience, I would like to contact them again for a job opportunity,” she says. BANGS is a relatively small company, but it is only gaining popularity among the influencer world on Instagram. Since Brooke was able to work with them early on, it’s likely the company will be fine with hiring a familiar face.
Brooke is a freshman in industrial design, but she’s very excited about the sneaker design minor she recently added to her graduation plan. “The sneaker design minor was introduced to SCAD last term, and it felt perfect to me, especially after the BANGS collaboration.” As for her post-college journey, Brooke still sees herself owning her own custom shoe business, but on a much larger scale. “I hope I can gain experience working with bigger shoe companies like Nike or Adidas before that,” she says. “I have a lot of cool ideas for sneakers and other shoes, and of course I could share them with Nike or Adidas or even BANGS, but there are also ideas that I want to keep to myself.”
But once she gets there — with both her BANGS collaboration and her SCAD training on her resume — there’s no doubt that Brooke has a bright future.
However, that doesn’t mean she can’t grow her business until she graduates from SCAD. As a freshman, Brooke is mostly taking her basic classes right now in Atlanta. But once she learns some of the basics from her sneaker design classes, she’ll have no reason to wait to create something bigger. “I really think if I was a little more educated about shoe design, I could start right now,” she says.
Brooke says Instagram has been a huge tool for her as a freelance artist, and it’s currently the only platform she relies on for custom shoe orders. “Because I already had my own custom shoe business before teaming up with BANGS, the collaboration gave me good publicity,” she says. And since the collaboration, the official BANGS Instagram account now follows Brooke, who also contributed publicity. “Any Instagram user interested in my custom shoe business can see this connection when they visit my profile, and it establishes a level of credibility that I didn’t have before.”
When asked if she had any advice for young creative professionals looking to grow their following through social media, Brooke said the secret to having a successful business starts with talking about your business. “If you are passionate about what you create, people will see that passion, and they will also become passionate about your product. This is how support is built.
It also encourages a mentality of nothing to lose. “Look, I know I’m a freshman and I know I’m young…but my best advice is to show off,” she says. “Contact the company of your dreams, even if you don’t think you have the right references. What if they like your personality and still want to hire you? You have nothing to lose, and the worst they can say is “no”. But even then, you are taking another step in the right direction.
Brooke’s DMs are always open for custom shoe designs on her Instagram account @brookes.brushes, and she has a Google form linked on that profile for easy ordering.
The Desert Daisy High Tops from the BANGS x McCall Mitchell collaboration are currently restocked on their website, so be sure to get your hands on them while you still can.